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Archaeological Investigation of the Borden Park Development Project, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Pape-Dawson Engineers, Inc. (Pape-Dawson), in response to a request from Embrey Partners, Ltd. (Embrey), conducted an archaeological investigation for the Borden Park Development Project (Project) in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The Project consists of the development of an approximately 2.06- hectare (ha; 5.1-acre [ac]) tract of privately-owned land and off-site improvements located at 875 East Ashby Place. The Project will include existing building demolition and restoration, new building construction, new utility installation, sidewalk and patio grading and excavation, footpath bridge foundations, and conversion of existing storm water drainage improvements adjacent to the San Antonio River. A historic-age building that once served as the Borden Company Inc.’s Ice Cream and Dairy Products Factory stands within the southeastern corner of the property. This building will not be impacted by the Project. Based on proposed construction plans, depths of impact will vary across the Project Area from 0.3 to 3.1 meters (m; 1 to 10 feet [ft]) below the current ground surface. The Project Area totals 4.1 ha (10.2 ac) in size, consisting of 2 ha (4.9 ac) of private development and 2.1 ha (5.3 ac) of development with an Antiquities Code of Texas (ACT) regulatory nexu.
As the Project is located within the city limits of the City of San Antonio (COSA) and River Improvement Overlay District 2, the Project requires compliance with local regulations. At the municipal level, the Project must comply with the Historic Preservation and Urban Design Section of the Unified Development Code (UDC; Article 6 § 35-630 Designated Archaeological Sites to 35-634 Cemeteries) as implemented by the COSA Office of Historic Preservation. Associated utility installation within COSA right-of-way (ROW) or Texas Department of Transportation ROW and utility easements granted to CPS Energy requires compliance with the ACT as implemented by the Texas Historical Commission (THC). No federal permitting or funding is anticipated for this Project; therefore, compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act will not be necessary.
Consistent with municipal and state regulatory review, the purpose of the investigation was to identify archaeological sites (if present) within the Project Area and assess the potential for the proposed Project to impact archaeological sites listed or considered eligible for listing as State Antiquities Landmarks (SALs) or within the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Cultural resource investigations for the Project consisted of a background study, archaeological trenching, hand excavation of 40-x-40-centimeter (cm) column samples, and focused archival research. UDC-compliant archaeological field investigation of the Project Area occurred in September 2019, and further UDC- and ACT-compliant investigation occurred in May and August 2020. A total of 15 archaeological trenches and two column samples were excavated during the investigation in accordance with a research design approved by the OHP on February 18 and May 19, 2020, and by the THC on May 20, 2020, under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 9450. Dr. Karissa Basse served as Principal Investigator for UDC- and ACT-compliant investigations, while Dr. Nesta Anderson served as the Principal Investigator for the initial UDC-compliant investigation. Dr. Karissa Basse and Senior Project Archaeologist Adam Leroy led the field efforts and were assisted by Project Archaeologist Jacob Sullivan, as well as archaeologists Mikayla Mathews, Mason Miller, and Sheldon Smith.
Field investigations resulted in the documentation of one newly recorded archaeological site (41BX2384). Site 41BX2384 is a multicomponent site consisting of a subsurface artifact scatter containing predominantly early to mid-twentieth century domestic and architectural materials, as well as a low frequency of non-diagnostic prehistoric lithic materials of unknown temporal affiliation. Prehistoric and historic artifacts related to site 41BX2384 were observed during subsurface investigations from a total of six trenches and two column samples across the Project Area. While no intact archaeological deposits were identified, one feature likely associated with a twentieth century embankment or erosion control measure within the relic channel of the San Antonio River was identified during trenching. In addition, no diagnostic artifacts were recovered that would link cultural materials observed within the Project Area to 41BX13, a nearby SAL- and NRHP-eligible archaeological site.
The historic artifact scatter contained within site 41BX2384 is likely associated with the Schooman family, who lived within the Project Area during the early to mid-twentieth century. Research indicates that the Schooman family does not appear to have been significant to local or regional development of the area. Given the paucity of diagnostic materials and absence of stratified deposits, overall disturbance, and lack of diagnostic artifacts associated with a single intact feature, site 41BX2384 is unlikely to yield any significant information regarding the historic or prehistoric occupation of the area. Pape-Dawson recommends site 41BX2384 be considered not eligible for SAL/NRHP designation within the Project Area.
Based on the results of these investigations, no significant archaeological sites will be impacted by the Project, and Pape-Dawson recommends no further work within the Project Area as currently defined. However, if undiscovered archaeological deposits or human remains are encountered during construction, it is recommended that all work in the vicinity should cease and that the discovery be evaluated by a qualified archaeologist who can provide guidance on how to proceed in accordance with applicable municipal and/or state regulations.
Materials collected as part of the UDC-compliant investigation are to be returned to the landowner or discarded at the landowner’s discretion following the conclusion of the consultation process. Materials collected as part of the ACT-compliant investigation are to be selectively curated in coordination with the THC following completion of the final report. All records generated during the Project will be curated at the University of Texas at San Antonio Center for Archaeological Research in accordance with THC requirements for State Held-In-Trust collections.
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